Phone booths in China. Photo by Marie-Claire Holmes.
News stories currently inflaming the media and blogosphere:
A bill before the House of Representatives would allow photos of flag-draped American caskets arriving on American soil.
McCain attempts to influence conflict
Vladimir Putin's war enablers George Bush and Dick Cheney are taken to task in Salon. And why oh why are they trying to stir up the Cold War again? Don't we have enough problems in Iraq and Afghanistan?
I find it highly suspect that John McCain and his lobbyist advisers (paid by the Georgian government) are talking daily to the Georgian president. And McCain's even sent his surrogates including Joe (once a Democrat) Leiberman and Lindsay Graham to Georgia - for what purpose and at taxpayers' expense?
As Josh Marshall writes in Talking Points Memo: McCain "... really has gone considerably beyond what's ever been considered appropriate or acceptable for a presidential candidate. He's worked at fairly evident cross-purposes with the president of his own party. He's been in several times a day phone contact with one of the key players in the drama. He's dispatching his own faux diplomatic delegations to the scene..."
Update Friday night: Josh Marshall has an update on McCain's bizarre comportment, as he appears to forget the US currently is involved in two wars:
"My friends, we have reached a crisis, the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War. This is an act of aggression," McCain said.
"Let's run-down the list," Marshall writes. "Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, followed by the US expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait. Collapse of Yugoslavia and subsequent wars of aggression between successor states. US invasion of Afghanistan. US invasion of Iraq. There are a slew of other examples of serious international crises over the last 16-18 years.
"One of the great threats we face is the personal sense of grandiosity of the lead foreign hands who shape the course of our role in the world. Not national grandiosity, but personal grandiosity. Because if you're a foreign policy hand or political leader your own quest for greatness is constrained by whether or not you live in times of grand historical events.
"There's a lot of this nonsense floating around today by pampered commentators who want to find a new world historical conflict to write bracing commentary about before we're done with the one from last week. But John McCain might be president in six months. And whether it's his own shaky judgment, temperament or just the desire to find a campaign issue, this loose cannon is a real threat to this country."
Meanwhile, a Russian writer says the real story about the conflict isn't being reported, at least not in the United States.
Campaign rhetoric discredited
In Time magazine, Joe Klein decries the rubbish being espoused by the McCain campaign and its supporters:
"...Back in the day, John McCain was the sort of politician who would stand first in line to call out this sort of swill. (As, I'm sure Barack Obama or John Kerry would do, if some hate-crazed, money-grubbing left-winger published a book claiming that McCain had been successfully brainwashed in Vietnam--as Kerry did indeed do when a group of spurious Bush-backing Vietnam vets tried to claim exactly that about McCain during the 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina.)
"But we're not seeing those sorts of claims being made about McCain this year...because Democrats tend not to do that sort of thing. They are the sorts of claims that Republicans--Bush Republicans--make. They range from the blatantly extra-curricular, like Corsi's book, to the official McCain-sanctioned introduction made by Joe Lieberman--of all people--yesterday: that Obama doesn't "put America first."
"There is no excuse for what the McCain campaign is doing on the "putting America first" front. There is no way to balance it, or explain it other than as evidence of a severe character defect on the part of the candidate who allows it to be used. There is a straight up argument to be had in this election: McCain has a vastly different view from Obama about foreign policy, taxation, health care, government action...you name it...Apparently, though, McCain isn't confident that conservative policies and personal experience can win, given the ruinous state of the nation after eight years of Bush. So he has made a fateful decision: he has personally impugned Obama's patriotism and allows his surrogates to continue to do that. By doing so, he has allied himself with those who smeared him, his wife, his daughter Bridget, in 2000. Those tactics won George Bush a primary--and a nomination. But they proved a form of slow-acting spiritual poison, rotting the core of the Bush presidency. We'll see if the public decides to acquiesce in sleaze in 2008, and what sort of presidency--what sort of country--that will produce."
Book slammed for lies, innuendo
Meanwhile, Barack Obama's campaign fights back against Jerome Corsi's slanderous book Obama Nation. The Obama campaign website's "Unfit for Publication" corrects Corsi's distortions and untruths. The book was published by professional Republican campaign operative Mary Matalin's imprint and Corsi is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who also played a significant role in the Swift-Boat campaign against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. And Media Matters debunks Corsi's dubious claims point-by-point. As Media Matters spokesman Paul Waldman remarked in an interview with CNN's Larry King, "slime between the pages of a book is still slime."
This YouTube video made by a non-professional says it all.
And Joe Conason writes a pre-election memo to Hillary Clinton.